[QODLink]
Middle East
'UN court to implicate Hezbollah'
Hezbollah leader expects members of his Shia group to be indicted in al-Hariri probe.
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2010 20:51 GMT

Nasrallah said al-Hariri (above) informed him of impending charges against Hezbollah [AFP]

The Hezbollah leader has said that members of his group are expected to be charged by a UN court probing the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon.

"I was personally informed by Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri before his visit to Washington (in May) that the [Hariri]tribunal will accuse some undisciplined members" of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah said in a press conference via video link in Beirut on Thursday.

"That's where things seem to be heading," he said, adding that the impending decision by the UN-backed court set up following the 2005 assassination of al-Hariri's had pushed Lebanon into a "very sensitive phase".

Nasrallah said Saad al-Hariri had assured him he would publicly avow that it was undisciplined members of Hezbollah, and not the party itself, who were implicated in the murder.

Mounting tension

His rare press conference came amid mounting tension over reports that the Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set to implicate the powerful Shia party, which is backed by Syria and Iran.

"There is a dangerous project that is targeting the resistance," Nasrallah added, using the standard Lebanese term for Hezbollah.

"We are not at all afraid, nor are we worried. We know how to defend ourselves."

He said that, from the outset, he had doubted the impartiality of the tribunal, which he accused of having made the decision to indict Hezbollah before conducting its probe.

"All the data we have indicate that the charge sheet was written up before even the interrogation of our members," he said. "The indictment is ready ... it is only a matter of political timing."

Al-Hariri and 22 others were killed in a massive bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.

The assassination sparked an international outcry and led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 29-year presence.

The Hariri murder has been widely blamed on Syria but Damascus has consistently denied involvement.

'Lack of credibility'

The UN tribunal's president, Antonio Cassese, said earlier this year he expects an indictment in the case between September and December, sparking fears in already tense Lebanon of a repeat of the violence that brought the country close to a new civil war in 2008.

Nasrallah reiterated on Thursday accusations that the tribunal lacked credibility.

"As long as the probe does not look into the possibility that Israel is implicated, we believe it is biased," he said.

"Never has the investigation considered the hypothesis that Israel had the means and the motive" to assassinate Hariri.

Nasrallah, whose party fought a devastating 2006 war with Israel, in March confirmed the team investigating the Hariri murder had interrogated members of his party.

But he said at the time that he did not believe Hezbollah was in the tribunal's line of fire.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list